Intersectional theorist and
Mexican-American author Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa was born on this day in
1942. The lesbian academic is most well-known for her novel Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza and
her work in the field of Chicana feminism.
Gloria Anzaldúa photographed by Margaret Randall (x).
Gloria was born on September 26,
1942 in the Rio Grande Valley in the south of Texas. She was born on the Jesús
María Ranch, which was owned by her grandfather and had been in her family for
several years. When Gloria was 11-years-old, the family moved to Hargill,
Texas. Her education included a degree in English, Art, and Secondary Education
from Pan American University and her master’s in English and Education from the
University of Texas at Austin. While living in Austin for school, Gloria
became active in artistic and political activist circles.
She first burst onto the feminist
literary scene in 1981 when she co-edited the hit anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. She
struck out on her own as a writer with the semi-autobiographical novel Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza in
1987 and then again with her famous speech “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter
to Third World Women Writers.” Throughout her career, Gloria was known as a
premier academic voice in Chicana theory, feminist theory, and queer theory.
While early on in her career, Gloria wrote that she felt attraction to multiple
genders, she would later identify herself as a lesbian.
Gloria won over 6 different prestigious
literary awards during her lifetime, including a Lambda Lesbian Small Book
Press Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Award both in 1991. She
passed away on May 15, 2004 at the age of 62 due from complication from
diabetes. At the time of her death, Gloria was in the middle of writing her
dissertation and she was posthumously awarded her doctorate from the University
of California, Santa Cruz in 2005. Today, she is remembered as a trailblazer in
Chicana, feminist, and queer studies and one of the first vocal literary
figures to embody all three identities. Multiple universities award Gloria Anzaldúa
Awards in literature.